The Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai race was set to be the first 24-hour endurance race of the year this weekend but was postponed by two weeks, which means it now runs on the same weekend as the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona. The date changed and clash with Daytona has led several teams to withdraw from the Dubai race, including BMW M Team WRT, who were set to run a pair of M4 GT3s. BMW M Team WRT won the race in 2023.
The date change was due to shipping delays caused by attacks on ships in the Bab El Mandab Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. A spokesperson for the 24H Series who runs the race told Sportscar365.com that ships carrying equipment for the Dubai race have been diverted to a new route around South Africa that would delay their arrival until January 16th.
Although BMW M Team WRT is not planning to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the date change for the Dubai 24 Hour has led them to withdraw from the race. In a statement on social media, the team alluded that they were concerned about delays to cars and equipment coming back from Dubai that may impact their preparations for the 2024 season. We also suspect that some personnel from WRT will be on hand at Daytona with BMW M Team RLL, in preparation for their upcoming season in WEC with the M Hybrid V8.
The date change for the 24H Dubai race also means that the 24H Series season opener will now be the 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi on January 20th-21st, followed by the Dubai race on January 26th-28th. BMW will still be represented at Dubai by the Century Motorsport team with two M4 GT3 cars as well as an M4 GT4, and the AGMC Racing team by Simpson Motorsport with an M4 GT4. Both of those teams will also compete in the Abu Dhabi race, though Century only has one M4 GT3 entry in that race. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy 24H Series]